Thursday, 16 April 2009

Happy Birthday to me! (& special offer reminder)

Is it a bit egotistical to say happy birthday to yourself on your own blog? Well, never mind, it's my blog and my birthday so I shall say it if I want! I am now officially starting to slip past my mid-thirties - how on earth did that happen?! The problem is that I still don't feel grown up most of the time!

So, what exciting things have I done so far today? Well, T is away until this evening for work, B is at his childminder's so apart from a phone call from T to wish me a happy birthday and tell me where he'd hidden B's card, a phone call from my parents and a few cards coming through the door it's been a pretty ordinary work day today. I've tidied the workshed (well, part of it, anyway!), started to move the website to a hosting company with better customer service (yes, that red error message at the top of the website will soon be gone - don't worry, it doesn't affect shopping security), taken some photos and finished and packaged up some orders. T is taking me out for a drink tonight while my Mum babysits (thanks Mum!), but I've decided that I'm going to pretend that it's my proper birthday tomorrow as T is taking B and I up to London for the day. While the boys go round the science museum I'm going to skip with glee round Hatton Garden and the jewellery quarter - woo hoo! I'm getting excited just typing the words!!

The photos that I've taken are the ones that you can see here - Treasured Shell cufflinks and earrings to match the Hidden Treasures and two new colours (turquoise and amethyst) for Fresh as a Daisy pendants. They are on the website now - and don't forget that:

Spend £30 or more on jewellery and get 20% off!

Enter the code 'easter' at checkout and the discount will be automatically applied for you.

This means, for example, that the Fresh as a Daisy pendants are currently £40 instead of £50! The offer runs out at midnight tonight, so don't miss out!

Saturday, 11 April 2009


The ingredients....
birds singing outside my workshed
a proliferation of bird ornaments and cushions in the shops at the moment
this gorgeous birdie card tutorial sheet
some pieces of silver too small for my Treasures

The result....

What do you think? Sweet, simple, perfect for every day wear, and perfect for welcoming the Spring. Now I need to make another, because every lovebird needs a mate! If you would like your own, follow the birdies here!

Remember the discount code for this Easter weekend - enter 'easter' at checkout and receive 20% off purchases of £30 or more!

Friday, 10 April 2009

Happy Easter!

Due to the fact that:
  1. It's the Easter weekend
  2. We've got lots of lovely family activities organised for this weekend that I'm really looking forward to
  3. It's my birthday next week
  4. I'm generally in a happy mood
there is a special offer on my website this Easter holiday weekend!

Spend £30 or more on jewellery and get 20% off!

Enter the code 'easter' at checkout and the discount will be automatically applied for you.

It's the first time I've had such a good discount offer, so if there's something that you've had your eye on I'd get it now as I doubt I'll be offering 20% off again this year! This offer includes made-to-order and hallmarked jewellery, and ends at midnight on Thursday. The offer is open to UK and international customers.

I've just uploaded some new products to the website, including new charm bangles, this time in emerald and turquoise, photos of which you can see here. I'll be showing you some more new products over the weekend.

Happy Easter!

Wednesday, 8 April 2009

Look what the postman brought me!

Aren't I a lucky girl?!

Laura has been really naughty (and lovely!) and sent me this funky coloured crotchet hooks! Aren't they great? Don't they go brilliantly with the yarn I used for the scarf and dress I showed you the other week? Thank you so much Laura - they are a lovely surprise and I shall use at least one of them this evening!

The other parcel that the postie brought me today was one that I paid for, but it was still lovely to open it and see these goodies inside - rough cut rubies, sapphires and emeralds! My ruby and sapphire charm bangles have been selling well on notonthehighstreet, and when I went to buy some more beads I decided to get some emeralds as well so that I could offer more choice. Hopefully the emerald charm bangles, and a turquoise option too, will be on both my notonthehighstreet shop and on my website tomorrow. I've got to finish some with rubies and sapphires for orders first and get them posted!

Before I get back to work, though, I just had to show you this. B and I went over to my parents yesterday for lunch. My Dad wanted to test his new BBQ (very posh, even got it's own chimney!) so of course we said we'd help out by eating the sausages etc. It's a hard life! B and I worked some of the food off by playing golf - I use those words in the loosest sense as I don't think that Tiger Woods has got anything to worry about from either of us! B had a great plan of action though - he picked up the ball, put it in front of the hoop, hit it through and then moved on to the next hoop - when he had done them all he did a celebration lap round the garden!

Tuesday, 7 April 2009

Thank you!

Thank you for all the lovely comments you have been leaving me recently - it's always nice to know that there are real people behind the numbers in the stat counter! I'm glad that people found the bangles post interesting. I have to admit that I didn't actually write it with the intention of writing a tutorial. Daft really, as teaching and writing projects and tutorials are part of how I make a living! It was more of a "here's me making my favourite piece of jewellery" post, but I guess that a tutorial is what it turned into! With that in mind, I've added a bit of info to it, namely how to work out how much silver you need for your bangle.

And there's another piece of information I need to give too - Qiotre, you asked how long it takes to make a bangle. To be honest that's a bit difficult to ask as I tend to work in a bit of a 'conveyor belt' method as it’s a more efficient use of my time – I tend to cut the wire for half a dozen or so bangles at one time and then file them all at the same time, solder them all at the same time etc. I can tell you that most silversmithing students I teach, even the complete beginners, complete a bangle easily in a 3 hour session, and that on a good day I can complete about half a dozen simple bangles in a day, fewer than that if they are more complicated bangles like my silver birch ones.

I've got a bit of blog catching up to do. I've got bits of info to give you, new designs to show you and so on - so expect a few posts over the next day or so. I've let them pile up while spring fever has had me sorting old cupboards for the charity shop and painting the hallway! The first thing I need to do, though, is say another thank you, this time to Vicky as she gave me a blog award last month. So, thank you Vicky, and I'm sorry it's taken me this long to post about it!

The award is the Lemonade Award, and it's awarded for "a positive attitude towards others and their blogs" which I'm chuffed about. It's probably given because I read so many blogs - take a look at the list of blogs I follow on my profile page! As always, there are rules attached to the award, and they are:
1.Put the logo on your blog or post
2.Nominate at least 10 blogs that show great Gratitude and/or Attitude.
3.Let them know they have received this award by leaving a comment on their blog.
4.Nominate your favorites and link to your post

I've nominated people whose blogs I enjoy reading and find an inspiration, either because they craft beautiful items or have a wonderful attitude to life, or both! And they are:
Nicky - Sparkly Treasures
Laura - Beads by Laura

Kyoko – Cotton and Cloud


Laura – Bugs and Fishes

Anne – Contrariwise

Lisa – U-handbag


Lu – Blu-shed

Kirsty – That Crafty Fish

Right, I'd better go and let them know they've been nominated!

Work in progress

Just a quick note while I take a break from painting the hall, stairs and landing to show you the work in progress on my desk when I locked up the shed for the night last night. Lots of bangles for my triple charm bangles, some more daisies (of course!) and a new design towards the back. Stay tuned for pictures of the finished pieces!

Wednesday, 1 April 2009

I like bangles!

Bangles are definitely my favourite things to make at the moment - there is so satisfying turning a piece of silver wire into a tactile, shiny, wearable-with-anything piece of jewellery! I've been making quite a few recently, some as commissions, some because the wire in question was begging to be made into the perfect bangle, so I thought I'd show you some of the processes!

The starting point is obviously calculating a piece of wire. I use the circumference of the bangle I need and the diameter of the wire I'm using to work out how much I need, and then get my saw out. The old saying "measure twice, cut once" is doubly true when it comes to sterling silver!

I use a set of bangle sizers to help me work out the inside circumference of the bangle I want to make, but another way is to use a ruler to measure the inside diameter of a bangle you know fits you and then calculate the circumference (circumference = diameter x pi, pi being that number that never ends, 3.142 for these purposes). Whichever method you use to work out the inside circumference of your bangle, you still need to add on a little bit of wire to take account of the thickness of the wire. I add on 1.5 times the diameter of the wire. So, if I'm making a bangle of inside circumference 220mm out of 2mm thick wire, I need 220mm + (1.5 x 2mm) = 223mm of wire. Don't worry, that's the only maths you'll see on this blog for a long long time!

The next job is to file the ends of the wire square to prepare for soldering - the join will only be neat if the ends of the wire meet up properly. Once I've checked the ends with my set square it's time to bend the wire into a rough 'D' shape. This makes sure that the ends of the wire are flush with each other.

Next - apply the solder and flux. I like to use solder paste for soldering bangles, especially if I'm working on several at the same time - it's got the flux (the solution that makes the solder flow across the join) already mixed in. You don't want to use too much solder, though, otherwise you'll only have to file the excess off afterwards.

It's time for the flame next! I use the bigger of my two blow torches for jobs like this as it's quicker at heating up such a big piece of silver. In order for the solder to melt and flow across the join the whole piece of silver has to be heated up. I place the solder on the inside of the join and heat from the outside. The heat draws the solder through the join, so I know that if I can see solder all along the join on the outside of the bangle, the join is secure.

Once the soldering is done, I quench the nearly-bangle in water and then put it in pickle (a mild acidic solution) to get rid of the oxidisation that heating up the silver causes. I like the 'fizz' the silver makes as I quench it! My pickle is kept in a pyrex dish in water in a lidded slow cooker to keep it safe and also keep it warm. The warmer pickle is, the quicker it works.

Then comes my favourite bit - shaping the metal using my mandrel and hammer. I love turning the strangely shaped loop of metal into a smooth bangle, and I love the fact that the hammer I use to do it is one that I've inherited and it's older than me.

After shaping it's filing and sanding. These are definitely not the most fun jobs, but they are absolutely necessary in order to get a professional finish. The aim is to make certain that you can't see where the soldered join is, and the only way to do that is to file carefully and then to work your way through all the different grades of sand paper.

Once the bangle is sanded I usually give it a hammered texture, partly to help hide any knocks that the bangle will get during normal wear. Before texturing the bangle is annealed (heated up and then quenched, pickled and rinsed) to help soften it again as the shaping, filing and sanding will have work hardened the metal.

The final stage is polishing, usually in my tumbler, and there it is! This is one of my Dabbled bangles, made from 5mm oval wire. It's got a really nice weight to it, and oval wire is lovely to wear.

Okay, lesson over for today - I'll be back tomorrow with some more photos!


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